Illinois High School Football News

Princeton’s dogged effort pays off at Mendota

Tigers scores 7 TDs in second quarter en route to 70-21 win

MENDOTA - It was a “ruff” start for the Princeton Tigers in more ways than one Friday at Mendota.

They fumbled the ball away on the opening kickoff, and after recovering a Mendota fumble, the Tigers put the ball on the turf again.

Then a dog streaked across the field, and by the time the first quarter expired, the state’s No. 4-ranked Class 3A team led only 7-0.

But the fun was only beginning for Princeton.

The Tigers scored seven touchdowns in the second quarter to run away to a 49-point halftime lead on the way to a 70-21 victory.

“That was not an ideal start by any means,” Princeton coach Ryan Pearson said. “Credit to Mendota. They came out. They got an onside kick on us. Fortunately, our defense bailed us out, but offense fumbled it away very first play. We can’t start like that.

“But that being said, I’m very, very proud how our kids finished. For our F/S [freshman/sophomore] kids to come in and do as well as they did [in the second half], that’s great work because that’s against Mendota’s No. 1 defense.”

The 70 points is the most by Princeton dating back at least six decades.

Princeton quarterback Teegan Davis ran for two touchdowns, threw for two more, and for good measure, returned an interception 42 yards for another, all in the second quarter.

He finished with 316 yards passing, the second most in school history, and five touchdowns.

Noah LaPorte, a 6-foot-4 sophomore, was on the receiving end of four of Davis’ passes, good for a school-record 206 yards, and three touchdowns, including an 80-yarder and a 48-yarder in the second quarter.

LaPorte said setting records is something he thought he’d never be doing.

“I was on JV last year. This year, they wanted stuff out of me, so I had to provide,” he said. “It was so much fun with all the blocking and stuff. The chemistry [with Davis] we’re building just keeps getting better and better.”

The Tigers’ running game racked up 214 yard rushing, and the Trojans had no answer to their passing game.

“We go in to each week [saying] we’re not going to try to force things, we’re going to try to take what the defense is giving us. And we saw a look that we really liked,” Pearson said. “Our offensive line did a great job of protecting. I would say Noah had a heck of a game, and Teegan was putting the ball on the money tonight.

“We may not have had many rushing yards, but if they’re going to stack the box to try to stop the run, we have the ability to put the ball in the air.”

Anthony Childs gave the home crowd something to cheer about with a 70-yard TD romp, bouncing off two Tigers at midfield to get the Trojans on the board with 6:25 left in the second quarter to make it 21-7.

“We got it blocked and hit it,” Mendota coach Keegan Hill said. “Gave us a chance to get on the scoreboard and in the flow of the game. Ideally, we’d score sooner and capture some momentum.”

But Davis found LaPorte for a 48-yard TD strike and the Tigers train revved up for five more scores, capped by Davis’ 42-yard pick six to make it 56-7 at the half.

Junior Andrew Peacock, who scored the game’s first touchdown on a 17-yard reception early in the first quarter, added a 53-yard TD run with 5:01 left in the third quarter.

Freshman Casey Etheridge picked up a 19-yard TD run in the fourth quarter.

Hill said the Tigers were as good as advertised.

“They’re explosive, fast and balanced. Yes, absolutely,” he said.

The Tigers improved to 4-0 overall and 2-0 in TRAC East play,

“It’s where we wanted to be, but our mantra is kind of one step at a time,” Pearson said. “Fortunately, we were able to get out of here with a great win on the road. We’ve got a big one coming back next week with Kewanee. We’re definitely excited about that.”